Food poisoning is the result of ingesting organisms or toxins, such as the bacteria E. coli and salmonella, in contaminated foods. Symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, fever and chills, weakness and headache, usually begin two to six hours after eating, although they can begin sooner or as long as several days later.
E. coli is naturally found in the intestinal tract of animals. Fecal contamination of foods is the normal route through which it gets to humans. Although E. coli O157:H7 is the most common, but it is just one of hundreds of strains that cause everything from travelers’ diarrhea to kidney and organ failure.
Salmonella, also of fecal origin, is one of the leading causes of bacterial food-borne illness. "Raw meat, poultry and seafood present the greatest risk," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C. "However, outbreaks have also been linked to fruits and vegetables.”
"There are 76 million cases of food-borne illness reported a year, with 5,000 resulting in death," Smith DeWaal said. "Your risk of dying is low, but your risk of getting sick is one in four. Sickness is very painful and results in doctor visits, lost work and extreme discomfort."